Plan Your Days: Monthly and Weekly Planning

Plan Your Days

Monthly and Weekly Planning

Hi, There!
As educators, mothers, housewives, employees, church members, ministers, friends, daughters, sisters (Oh, the many hats that we wear!) it can be downright overwhelming to keep track of all.of.the.things. Below is a photographic tour, and step-by-step explanation, of how I manage my life through monthly and weekly planning. I surely don't have it all together, but what I do have is a system that has been fleshed out over several years, and which I rely upon when I just don't think I can juggle it all. Here's hoping that it gives you ideas, inspiration, or even just encouragement, as you plan YOUR life. 

Planning Procedures
I keep a list of my planning procedures in the front of the planning section of my Home Management Binder (tour of that binder coming soon). I have used this system, with little change, for years now and I don't need the procedure list. However, it's important to have anyway. When a tired brain is planning for busy days, decision fatigue is avoided by having procedure lists.

  • Master Calendars
In my Home Management Binder, I keep a set of Master Calendars for the entire year and part of the next year. This is a Master Calendar because it is a calendar "rough draft". This allows me to (physically, by hand-that's important) write in any future events far in advance. It is the place where events get marked out when they are cancelled, and moved around when they are changed. Quarterly, I fill in all that I know for the coming few months, and then make a copy for the other locations in my life that I may need them- my Eagles (Eagles is the homeschool support group that I operate) binder and my Lesson Plans Binder.

Because these are master calendars, they allow for future planning. As you can see, the calendars of the current quarter are far more full than calendars in the future. They get fuller as times passes, and then they get edited and finalized before being copied into my planner.

  • Planner
Every month, I edit and finalize my Master Calendar and then copy it (physically, by hand) into my Planner.  I then color code every event.(You can see my color code on my Planning Procedures, listed above) I also color code my days with that day's primary color focus.
 (So, if I have two events on one day, the event that is that day's priority is the color that I use for that day's date. This helps me keep priorities in line when days don't go as planned.) 
This planner is from the Plan Ahead brand, and is the See it Bigger planner. 
 (See the notes below on why I prefer a simple planner rather than something elaborate,
 such as a Happy Planner. )

As you can see, I use stickers to satisfy my urge to go "planner happy". There are stickers for decoration, stickers to indicate things like birthdays, and stars on all school days.
  • Wall Calendar
I then copy only the basic events onto my wall calendar, so that I have a visual at all times of the major things going on.

  • Weekly Spreads
I then take the monthly events in my planner and put them on each weekly spread. This planner stays out on my desk at all times (unlike my master calendars, which are in a binder on my shelf, so both are necessary.)
Then, I schedule my school days for each week.

  • Brain Dump
Each week, I sit down to take the broad plan that I have into place and manage my hours to fit it all in. The very first, non-negotiable step in this process is to do a Brain Dump. This means that I (physically, by hand- are you seeing a theme here?) write down everything that has to be done, even things that I do every single week. I have my brain dump forms categorized by the major compartments of my life. (The week after I am typing this is started here for you, for reference, but it will be much more full when I sit down to plan.) Everything that is in my brain gets dumped onto the paper. Then, anything that isn't reasonable gets erased, and then either let go of or migrated to next week's brain dump form. This is vital to functioning without complete mental fatigue, to not over-scheduling, and to having reasonable expectations.

  • Weekly Plan Sheet and Daily To-Do Lists
I then refer to my monthly planner and my brain dump and fill in a weekly plan sheet, and color code it. This is a vital step as well, as it allows me to see where I have over-scheduled and over-extended myself. We tend to think that we have more hours in day than we actually do, and placing events and tasks into those hours in a visual way eliminates this problem. The color coding also allows me to see where most of my time is going that week, and to ensure that every color is on the page in its proper proportions.
                     ( pink? No schole? Not an option. Must rearrange schedule.)
From this point, I can take my Brain Dump and place every single item into my planner as a To-Do list for each day. If it won't fit anywhere, then it isn't a reasonable expectation and it needs to be erased or migrated.

  • Command Center
I then copy a brief version of my weekly plan into my kitchen Command Center so that my husband can refer to it if needed and I have a reminder in the place where I spend the second most amount of time (first, office/schoolroom. second, kitchen). Then, I plan that week's meals from right in my Command Center.

  • Schole and Mother's Education
Next, I schedule out my SCHOLE and give myself reading assignments for the week. I use the Delightfully Feasting Schole Trackers for this. These stay in the Mother's Education tab of my Home Management Binder, which I pull out every day to track this and other things.

  • Phone
Finally, I clean out and update my podcast playlist for the week, and set timers on my phone for that week's events, school schedule, and anything that I need help making a priority.
(vitamins, 10 minute brain break, etc).
That's it...that's how I plan this crazy, wonderful, full life.

A Few Notes:
  • Paper VS Digital
This is a mostly paper system. If you are a digital gal, then not all of this system will appeal to you most likely. However, I would like to point out a couple of things- 1. Any digital planning involves looking at a screen. We all have different ideas of how much we should be looking at screens, but the evidence that shows how terrible it is for us can't be denied. I struggle enough with looking at screens for so many other things (some of them quite worthy things, and even some school lessons), so I don't want to be staring at a screen in order to plan and keep up with my life.
2. Physically writing things out (more than once), implants them in our brains and forms a connection to and ownership of them that typing them into our phones simply I can't keep up with everything digitally, no matter how carefully I place it into my device...because I wasn't created and wired that way. And, the truth is: neither were you.
So, whether you prefer digital or paper planning...consider which parts of your planning should be on paper regardless.
  • Easy VS Thorough 
This is a multi-step system that has been fleshed out over years. It definitely isn't the most direct and "easy" system, and it may not be for everyone.
But, again, I wanted to point out a couple of things.
1. Easy doesn't necessarily mean useful. You can have ease in your planning, but unless it's working for your life, then it doesn't really help you. If you're losing more time trying to figure out what to do when and scrambling about all day long than you gain by not spending it planning....then you probably need to be spending more time planning.
2. Most good things require investment, and I have found that managing a full life requires investment. I can invest time weekly to be a manager of my time, or I can have my time managing me all week long. I don't always choose well, and your investment may look differently than mine...but the truth is: a well managed life requires planning investment.

  • Simple VS Pretty
This system isn't necessarily the easy way out, but it IS simple. Yes, I know all about Eric Condren and Happy Planners. Yes, I am drawn to them. Yes, I love them. But, I resist the urge. Because, beautiful papers do not a useful system make. I can spend hours putting together a beautiful, fun, colorful planner with pretty pages for everything.... and then never use it. (Ask me how I know). Or, I can simply plan in a functional way. Stickers are a great way for me to add beauty to my system, without making beauty take precedence over usefulness. Far too often, when systems aren't working, instead of addressing the issues and habits within ourselves that are keeping us from USING a system....we just create a new system. We escape the reality of our bad habits by giving ourselves the illusion of being productive. Creating a new system FEELS productive. But, being productive actually comes through USING the system we have created.

So, find what works for you, and then repeat it over and over and over and over.

I hope this tour helps you in finding, adjusting, or inspiring what works for you for planning your life.

May All Your Days be Spent....Delightfully Feasting <3

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